Happy feast day of the Immaculate Conception!
Today is the feast of Mary as the patroness of the USA, and the feast of her sinlessness. It’s a beautiful feast for a million reasons, but it is specifically special for me because of what I have learned about her this year, and how I have seen her working in the trials we have experienced.
Did you know that the Pantone color of the year is Marian blue? And that LIFE magazine did a huge special issue on Mary? Right at the end of the year this year, there were a bunch of weird iterations of Mary popping up in areas of culture that are not usually religious in any way. Arguably, even Frozen 2 had some distinctly Marian elements. I thought this year was going to be incredible because just before the new year, it seemed like she was claiming this for her year. Once 2020 started really happening, I started to think I was wrong, but slowly I started to see a rhythm to a lot of the things in 2020, and now I believe that she really did claim this year in a very unexpected way, especially in the US.
In the Life of Mary, the author tells us that in the Magnificat, the word “lowliness” does not actually mean, humility or this kind of self-worthlessness, that people often describe it. In fact, it is more akin to “broken-hearted.” According to visions of mystics, and other apparitions of Mary, Mary actually struggled a great deal. She was treated very badly because of being “the good kid” and she longed for the second coming of Jesus, praying every day to serve the woman who would bear Him. When the angel appeared to her and let her know she would BE that woman, it meant that God had seen her as worthy, not only of the answer to her prayer, but something so much better and more glorious. When she talks about God seeing her lowliness, it means He saw her and loved her in her grief and when others didn’t.
Reading that section was a huge revelation to me. I was treated cruelly in some situations as a kid because I was “the good one,” and it was lonely and depressing, and even confusing. To imagine that Mary understood my suffering and that God has seen her in it, and seen her as worthy of being His mother filled my heart. It gave me a deep understanding of why we see apparitions of Mary throughout history finding the poor, vulnerable, and mistreated, and tending to them, bringing them healing. It’s because she understand what it feels like, she has been there and she cares deeply for them.
This year, while we have seen unimaginable suffering, and we are still hurting, we have seen the world flip like what Mary says in the Magnificat. Suddenly, we as a culture are seeing the value of people who have been taken for granted for so long. Teachers, nurses, mail workers, grocery store cashiers, suddenly we are all seeing that they are so so important; and that we need to tend to their needs better. In some cases(unfortunately not all), they are getting raises and having more consistent work than other more prestigious positions that have been lost. Most importantly though, we see now how important they are, what needs to be done to help, and that they deserve that help.
We have also had truths ripped open about vulnerable populations that have been suffering for too long. From the whisper heard around the world, “Mama, I can’t breathe,” to the poor populations dying at alarming rates of COVID, to the immigrant children being treated in inhuman ways, to the terrifying child trafficking rings that have been brought down, to the disrespect and lack of care that many politicians and the political system has for those who are suffering financially or medically. Suddenly, people who have never had to worry about these things are seeing the drastic state of things, and their eyes have been opened.
The most extreme, and one that I know some will not agree with, is the miracle of getting Trump out of office. I sincerely believe that without everything we have experienced this year, we would be looking at another 4 years of invisible suffering from the vulnerable, but because of what we have seen this year, the thoughts of his heart and his lack of care for the suffering was made abundantly clear. Biden, while he is not perfect, is dedicated to Mary, even keeping a Rosary in his pocket. His entire platform is based on helping the vulnerable, who Mary is the patron of more than anyone. (I know there are things he does that are not in line with what most Catholics believe, but I believe he can do good even if he is not perfect.)
Today, in a special way, I am thanking Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception for seeing the suffering of so many who have been struggling for so long. I am praying that as the world continues to turn upside down( 😉 Hamilton fans?) she continues to turn sufferings into miracles. Just as Mary turned to the servants at the wedding at Cana, and bid them “Do whatever He tells you,” may we listen to her now, and receive the best wine, that they have saved for us. ♥️
Also: in Scripture, after a spiritual victory even one still filled with trials, people would dance in front of the temple. Today, to celebrate Mother Mary, let’s dance! 💃